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Mike Garcia Provides Solutions to Improve Wildfire Detection, Prevention

Representative Mike Garcia offered a series of amendments to help improve wildfire detection and prevention during a House Science, Space and Technology Full Committee Markup.

During the hearing, Garcia offered an amendment to address California’s frequent and reckless use of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). His amendment clarifies language that would improve the balance between reducing wildfires and ensuring that residents have access to the power that they pay for. The amendment says that assistance provided by the Department of Energy should empower states to make power shut off protocols a measure of last resort instead of a measure of first resort.

“PSPS should have been a band-aid while the state of California fortified risky power lines to permanently address the threat that sparking posed,” said Garcia during the markup. “Unfortunately, it’s become effectively a crutch for utility companies and now is an all too routine part of life in California with no end in sight…A better balance must be struck that effectively reduces the risk of wildfires from sparking while also ensuring that residents have continual access to the power that they pay for.”

During the hearing, he also advocated for the need to modernize federal forest management policies by allowing federal land managers to utilize active forest management practices, such as prescribed burns and brush clearing.

“If we really want to reduce the number and intensity of wildfires in the West, we must encourage scientific and technological advancements that create or improve actionable land management decisions. We must also cut the red tape that is currently preventing land managers from actually implementing the forest management decisions that ultimately reduce the number of fires and reduce the fuel that feed fires once they are started,” said Garcia during the markup.

Earlier this year, Rep. Garcia introduced the PROTECT Act, which would allow for more flexibility for federal land managers to utilize active forest management methods, like prescribed burns, to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire.

Garcia also introduced the bipartisan, bicameral FIRE Act, which would improve wildfire detection and forecasting and enable NOAA to quickly disseminate critical information to land managers and firefighters to improve efforts to combat wildfires before they spread to catastrophic levels.  

Garcia remains committed to improving wildfire detection capabilities, addressing the threat PSPS poses to Californians, and improving federal forest management practices.

Read more about Garcia’s efforts to prepare for and prevent wildfires here